Elementary School Students and the Sleep They Need

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Hello Oxford Community! Your school counselor here with some important info about sleep:  Did you know that the average school aged child needs 9-11 hours of sleep per night to promote healthy growth and development? Statistics show that 25% of school aged children are not getting enough sleep.  Sleep deprivation can be a contributor to many behavioral, mood, or learning issues.  Without adequate sleep our kids can struggle to learn and be alert throughout the school day, their physical and emotional growth can be effected, and they can become irritable or cranky.

Here are some quick tips to support healthy sleep habits:

  • Pick a bedtime and stick to it (Even on the weekends, as much as you can, kids thrive on consistency)
  • Limit the amount of sugar in the afternoons and after dinner and avoid caffeine throughout the day
  • Limit intake of liquids (water, juice, etc.) before bed
  • Try to avoid heavy or emotional conversations before bed
  • Make bedroom as dark as possible at night, using a nightlight only as needed
  • Keep a lower temperature in the room  (bodies sleep better at lower temperatures)
  • Use the bed only for sleeping (when kids use their bed as a play area, the bed becomes associated with play and not sleep, making it hard for a child to fall asleep once in their bed)
  • Make sure pajamas are comfortable and not too tight or too itchy
  • Start prepping for bed at least ½ an hour before bedtime
  • Keeping the lights in the house dim helps signal to the brain that it’s time for sleep
  • Turn off TVs and other screens
  • Choose a low key activity such as reading a book aloud to your child or having them read to you
  • Don’t allow Phones, computers, or tablets in the room overnight (you’d be surprised how many kids I talk to that use their phones in their rooms after bedtime without their parent’s knowledge – this is a huge issue for sleep). Many studies that show the light from screens before bed significantly interferes with quality of sleep

Sample Bedtime Routine

7:30 pm Turn off all screens (TV, phone, tablet, etc.)

Choose a calming activity such as coloring, puzzle, calming music or a bath

8:00 pm Dim lights throughout the house

Eat a light (sugar free and high protein snack)

Brush teeth

8:15 pm Get into bed, read or listen to a story
8:30 pm Lights out, Goodnight!

Having bedtime stress? If your child has significant trouble falling or staying asleep during the night after trying to stick to a routine, it can be helpful to consult with your pediatrician. There is also a lot of information about nurturing healthy sleep habits online.

Sweet dreams! –Miss Jenny